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Holland get World Cup campaign off to a winning start (

11 sep 2008 - Source:

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The Netherlands opened their World Cup Group Nine qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win in Macedonia on Wednesday night. Bert van Marwijk recorded his first victory as coach of the Dutch team. John Heitinga and Rafael van der Vaart scored second half goals to give the Netherlands all the three points.
Three points
Coach Bert van Marwijk saw his Holland side get their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a flying start with a hard-fought 2-1 win in front of a 12, 000 crowd in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. The new Holland coach fielded a strong team. Real Madrid midfielder Wesley Sneijder was ruled out of Wednesday's game with injury, so Nigel de Jong was played in midfield, along with Rafael van der Vaart and former PSV captain Mark van Bommel. Arjen Robben was match fit again and returned to the starting XI. The Dutch enjoyed the bulk of possession but they were unable to create any clear-cut chances. Macedonia even seemed to have taken the lead, but Lazio Roma striker Goran Pandev had his seemingly perfectly fair strike wrongly ruled out for offside.
Ibrahim Afellay came on substitute
John Heitinga broke the deadlock for the Netherlands right after the break when he headed home a cross from Arjen Robben. The visitors started to dominate the game and doubled their lead on the hour mark when a superb through ball from Mark van Bommel set up Rafael van der Vaart who created some space before hitting a powerful shot high into the goal; 2-0. The Netherlands had chances to make it three, but omitted to wrap up the points. Pandev scored again for Macedonia, but this time he had his goal rightly disallowed by the referee. The hosts reduced the deficit twelve minutes from time when the referee pointed to the spot after a foul from Huntelaar on Pandev. The striker himself converted the penalty. Ibrahim Afellay replaced Arjen Robben eight minutes from time but the 22-year-old midfielder could not make his mark in the closing stages. Macedonia came close a few times in the final minutes, but the Dutch held on for a win.
On top
Following their 2-1 win over Macedonia, the Netherlands are on top of their World Cup 2010 Qualifying Europe Group 9. Scotland beat Iceland 2-1 in Reykjavik on Wednesday night. Macedonia and Scotland have three points from two qualifying games, while Iceland and Norway have one point each in Group Nine. The Oranje will be next in action on Saturday, October 11, when they play host to Iceland in the Rotterdam Kuip.